Abstract

Silence is germane to deliberation. Quieting the voices of others allows one to think clearly. It helps one define one’s own ideas and make choices in accordance with what one really thinks, rather than as a result of outside influences. Rousseau, in the Social Contract, suggests exactly this position when he claims that silence protects deliberating citizens from the influences of factions. This paper argues that silent political deliberation is important to Rousseau for an additional reason: it allows one’s own, uninfluenced sentiments to inform one’s political will. This unexplored interpretation has much value: the better we understand a citizen’s political deliberation, the better we may protect it and allow the citizen’s true voice to speak.